Quarto (ca. 26 x20,5 cm). 1 pp. black ink on lined beige wove paper. Fold marks, but overall a very good letter, written in a legible hand.
Original autograph manuscript letter written by an agent of California’s pioneer real estate firm, Bovee, Toy & Co, to a lumber & wood dealer and potential buyer from West Groton, Massachusetts, Asa H. Thompson, offering “a certain timber (redwood) property” amid mass protests against the excessive logging of now-endangered redwoods.
The first commercial logging of redwoods occurred in the first decades of the 19th century in the Oakland hills and Monterey County of California. After the discovery of gold in 1848, as thousands of immigrants rushed into the area, the timber-rich North Coast turned into a scene of excessive and often poorly managed logging. In the 1880s, the fraudulent privatization of California timberlands and the destruction of over 40 percent of the old growth triggered a mass movement to save the redwood forests. Although the 20th century saw the establishment of several state parks across the state, by the 1960s, industrial logging had removed almost ninety percent of all the original California redwoods.
Dated June 10, 1887, this historically interesting letter was written at the height of the California “log boom” and just a few years before excessive logging had destroyed most of the North Coast redwoods.
The letter was written by an agent of California’s pioneer real estate firm, Bovee, Toy & Co, in San Francisco. The company was founded by the 8th Mayor of Oakland, William Henry Bovee (1824-1894), and his son-in-law, George Toy, in 1885. “The senior member of the firm has followed the calling for a number of years…. They have established themselves at No. 19 Montgomery Street, under the Lick House. The junior member, George D. Toy, has been closely connected with the financial and insurance worlds for a long time….” (The San Francisco Examiner. 25 May 1885. P. 2.) For more than five decades, the prosperous firm offered its clients a variety of farming lands, vineyards, orchards, timber tracts, and redwood timber lands in California. Bovee, Toy & Co was shut down in the late 1930s, a few years after Toy’s death.
The author addresses the note to Asa H. Thompson (Ca. 1861-1926), potential buyer and owner of the lumber firm A. H. Thompson & Co (late 19th - early 20th century) in West Groton, Massachusetts. In the text, the author offers the addressee “a certain timber (redwood) property” that Bovee, Toy & Co expects to receive in the near future. The author reassures the lumber & wood dealer that the redwood property “will exactly suit” his ideas and promises to write at length as soon as he gets more details.
Overall, a historically interesting original autograph manuscript letter written by an agent of California’s pioneer real estate firm, offering a potential buyer “a certain timber redwood property” amid public outcry over the excessive logging of now-endangered redwoods.
The text of the letter (original spelling and punctuation preserved):
Your – 30 – recd, contents noted –
We expect to have a certain timber (redwood) property placed in our lands for sale that we think will exactly suit your ideas. As soon as we can bring matters to a focus will write you at length regarding the whole matter.
Very truly Yours
Bovee Toy Co.”